We don’t do a lot compared to much of America’s Christmas decorating. I considered not decorating at all since it is a “different kind of Christmas” as Mark Schultz’s beautiful song puts it, due to the loss of a family member.
Thinking about Dickens’ Christmas Carol story, I realized that opposite of Scrooge, the ‘ghost’ of Christmas past was a treasure of memories for me. And so I share a few of those with you today.
Christmas stockings –
Laurie, Cheri, Kevin
Hung since they were 1-1/2, 5 and 6 – for little gifts and a reminder behind them of the backstory of our family
Oh the childhood wonder of running down those stairs Christmas morning, to read the Gospel of Luke and to remember the backstory of Mary, Joseph and Jesus – the reason for the season.
Traditions grew with the family – and we added stockings until new families began their own Christmas traditions
…then we sent the grandkids stockings and their parents’ childhood homemade ornaments with them
But they always came home, and Doug started the tradition of serving pancakes to us on Christmas morning.
It was also Doug’s idea that we go back to the stockings… he noticed how the children were tearing open gift after gift, not appreciating what they had in their hands, and forgetting to say thank you to the giver. So we started a new tradition that the gift had to fit in the stockings. The limit was $7.50 and we’d sometimes find the “change” in the stocking with the gift. Simple gifts made or found with love – and just as appreciated ….perhaps more. But Grandma wondered – what will we do with all the time we used to spend after the reading of the Christmas story opening gifts? The children said they would play music, sing and make puppet shows. and so they did. I recall Michael about 4, playing Frank’s guitar standing upright, like an upright Bass, Aimee playing the flute, then Ben, Kristin m Kim and David doing a puppet show and Faith singing silly songs, and later Aimee spending hours with all the younger kids creating amazing life-size objects that held Christmas gifts.
Nowadays we have a tiny tree-shaped garland that hangs on the wall, with meaningful ornaments. Like this handmade woodsman, from a nursery school child. and the nail, reminding us of the cost of our ultimate gift.
The angel ornament on the left was made by children from Lydia’s home in Chicago – a reminder that giving is also a central reason for the season. The angel on the right, crocheted by an elderly aunt, a reminder of family gone before and on the Genesis window JOY, made by my sister-in-law Bette (now in Heaven with our David, and our Laurie and Debbie, and Marcus and many other loved ones)… JOY – in memories of Christmases past – JOY in knowing there is HOPE for our future … generation to generation.
I remember Laurie, Cheri and Kevin reciting a little poem of the meaning of JOY – Jesus – Others – You – and it is so true – whatever the circumstance, if I look to Christ, I get an eternal perspective, and when I do something for others it brings me joy. My children all believe and practiced giving joy to others.
I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. (3John 4)
Another precious memory is sharing this verse from Isaiah and others with my Daddy and imagining the hills, and the mountains, and all of creation bursting with songs of JOY.
Is. 55:12 “So you’ll go out in joy,
you’ll be led into a whole and complete life.
The mountains and hills will lead the parade,
bursting with song.
All the trees of the forest will join the procession,
exuberant with applause.”